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Full text of "A history of Persia"

LXI        LITERATURE UNDER MONGOLS      229
"the Koran in the Persian language." To quote Pro-
fessor Cowell : "The stories themselves are generally
easy, and told in a delightful style ; but the disquisitions
which interrupt them are often c darker than the darkest
oracles/ and unintelligible even to the Persians themselves
without a copious commentary. When he is clear, no
Persian poet can surpass his depth of thought or beauty
of imagery ; the flow of fine things runs on unceasingly
as from a river-god's urn." *
The poem, which is of great length, opens with the
following beautiful " Song of the Reed " :
List to the reed, that now with gentle strains
Of separation from its home complains.
Down where the waving rushes grow
I murmured with the passing blast,
And ever in my notes of woe
There lives the echo of the past.
My breast is pierced with sorrow's dart,
That I my piercing wail may raise ;
Ah me ! the lone and widowed heart
Must ever weep for bye-gone days.
My voice is heard in every throng
Where mourners weep and guests rejoice,
And men interpret still my song
In concert with their passions' voice.
Though plainly cometh forth my wail,
'Tis never bared to mortal ken ;
As soul from body hath no veil,
Yet is the soul unseen of men.2
His Diwan^ or collection of odes, is less known than the
Masnavi, although there runs a legend that Sadi, on being
requested by his royal patron to select the finest and most
sublime ode3 in the Persian tongue, chose one out of the
Diwan beginning :
Divine Love's voice each instant left and right is heard to sound :
We're bound for heaven.   To witness our departure who'll'be found ?
1  Oxford Essays, 1855.
2  Translation by Professor E. H. Palmer.
3  Nicholson's beautiful verse-translation of another of the odes is quoted as a heading
to this chapter.